Cowboy sues sheriff for seizing cattle

By Michelle Keahey, East Texas Bureau | Aug 8, 2011

A professional rodeo athlete, known as the Old Cowboy, has filed a lawsuit against a Jefferson County Sheriff's deputy claiming the sheriff's personal hatred led to the improper seizure of his cattle.

Scotty Gilbert filed the lawsuit against Charles Melanson, the Livestock Deputy in Jefferson County, on Aug. 4 in the Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont Division.

According to the lawsuit, Deputy Melanson arranged an air search of Gilbert's cattle without providing notice in July 2009. The air search was conducted over land in Chambers County and Melanson was unable to obtain a warrant to seize the cattle from the Chambers County Justice of the Peace.

A month later, Melanson obtained a warranty from a Baytown Justice of the Peace. The Chambers County deputies seized Gilbert's cattle, claiming they failed to have proper food and water. Gilbert was arrested the same day in Jefferson County.

"Gilbert's attorney was told that Chambers County would be willing to drop the charges if Gilbert would pay a ransom and give 20 head of cattle plus expenses allegedly used by the state for the housing of the cattle," the lawsuit states.

Gilbert states several of his cattle were abused and had escaped. By the summer of 2010, he "succumbed to the blackmail" and paid the "ransom." The charges were dropped.

The defendant is accused of violating Gilbert's due process rights and depriving Gilbert of his protected property and liberty.

The plaintiff is asking for an award of actual and punitive damages, attorney's fees and court costs.

Gilbert is represented by the law firm of Watts Associates of Missouri City.

U.S. District Judge Ron Clark is assigned to the case.

Case No. 1:11-cv-00362

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